After the last post,

I was somewhat mentally exhausted – so sorry that this wasn’t up yesterday as planned. But, here it is. The next little instalment of the saga of my spinal fusion.

We left off when I was taken back to the ward after recovery. It was around eight o’clock in the evening so 13 hours since I arrived at the hospital. James came to see me, and I don’t remember much of that evening at all except the regular calf massage from the intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) devices on my legs, the pain from the surgery and utter frustration at not being able to pee.

It’s almost impossible to ‘go’ against gravity when going to the loo which is why I now detest bedpans, if I’m ever going to be immobile again I’m going to make sure I have a catheter. Too much information? Tough – that’s real life.

The one thing beyond this I remember is nausea and thirst. Constant thirst. I felt like I couldn’t consume enough fluids to keep up.

The next morning, unfortunately, they didn’t have any gluten-free food available for me, but luckily James had been a genius and bought me some little tubs of gluten-free oats from Asda, so I had that and a cup of tea.

A little later the physio came around to see me; I was keen to get up and about as all the literature had said the faster I got up and about the better. However, this physio was pushy and not only did I go to the loo on my own but the physio made me walk around the ward and up some stairs. Afterwards, I was exhausted.

30 minutes later my nurse came in and declared me “ready to go home” – according to my physio I was independently mobile and ready to be alone at home. At this point, I broke. I wasn’t prepared to go home – I was less than 12 hours post-op, anxious and in a lot of pain. Until I got to speak directly to my surgeon, I said I was going nowhere.

Luckily, James had contacted my mum, and she arrived to speak on my behalf. Medicated, in a lot of pain, couldn’t get out of bed unassisted and hadn’t gone anywhere unaccompanied in years, let alone in the hospital. I’m so grateful that James and my mum had my back as advocating for myself was exhausting, especially with so many mixed messages coming my way all at once. Not ashamed to say I cried with a mix of relief and frustration.

I slept all afternoon. Then my surgeons F2 came to see me. She was a lovely, compassionate and understanding doctor who had spoken to my surgeon directly. He said I would need a few days to be stable enough to go home, despite what the nurse and physio decided. What a relief! My advice while you are in the hospital is to have someone who knows all the details, as well as your preferences and wishes. Self-advocacy is impossible for at least a few days, post-op.

The take-home message from this day is simple – have an advocate who knows you and your plan, don’t take anything final from anyone by your surgeon. Independent is subjective – ask for a second opinion if in doubt.

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